LINCOLN — Six months ago, Claire White's participation in the Nebraska Coaches Association all-star volleyball match — or college athletics — was in doubt.
The Washburn University recruit from Exeter-Milligan suffered a broken hip in a rollover accident as she was driving home from a January basketball game.
“To come out of that with only one broken bone, although it was a bad one, it was a blessing,” said White, who was in the hospital for 10 days. “I knew I had time to heal up to play in this.”
She was one of five players on the winning Red team to have between seven and nine kills in Tuesday night's match. It drew an estimated 1,700 to Lincoln North Star's gymnasium.
The Reds, who lost leads in dropping the second and third sets, came back to win the match 25-22, 24-26, 21-25, 25-16, 15-9.
Kelsey Stratman of Omaha Skutt led the Reds with nine kills and 2.5 blocks. Cari McGarvie of North Star had eight blocks, with White, Christina Silver of Grand Island and Scarlet Howerter of Lincoln Pius X getting seven apiece.
Elaine Kramer of Gretna, Katie Hughes of Seward and Cassie Effken of Pius X paced the Blues with seven kills each.
The Reds had three ace serves in the final set, when they twice had four-point runs in taking an 11-6 lead. A receiving error on the Blues ended the match.
“Credit goes to the girls for getting their timing down,” Reds head coach Craig Songster of Lincoln Northeast said. “Those who weren't used to as quick an offense were willing to work on their timing.
“We knew we didn't have the greatest of blocking teams, but were strong in the back row and with our outside hitters.”
Songster is from Exeter and coached White, one of those outside hitters, on an elementary-grade club team. His parents still live in the area.
“My heart sank when I first heard about the accident,” he said. “That kid is a tough cookie. She wasn't here just to play. She played a great game.”
In the first set, the Blues had early five-point leads and were ahead 20-14 on a kill by Hughes. The Reds then went on a 11-2 run to steal the set. A hitting error tied it at 22, then the Reds got kills from Stratman and Ashley Stevens of Bridgeport before the pair combined for the block on set point.
The Reds tried the same script in the second set, coming back from a 13-7 deficit to lead 18-17, and were serving for set point at 24-22. But the Blues got the final four points to even the match at a set apiece.
The Blues fell behind 14-9 in the third set, when the teams could begin to use any combination of players, and were trailing 17-13 before winning the set with a 12-4 finish. Kills by Effken and Megan Schmale of Elmwood-Murdock accounted for the final two points.
The Reds breezed in the fourth set as Morgan Heise of Wood River and Howerter had three kills apiece.
“We're all very competitive and we wanted to win,” said White after her fourth all-star match of the summer. “It was so fun to play on a team with girls you always wished you could play with.”
Named as Most Valuable Teammates, a new award voted on by players and coaches, were Lea Sack of Pius X for the Reds and Effken for the Blues.
Blues..................................22 26 25 16 9
Reds..................................25 24 21 25 15
Blues (kills-aces-blocks): Ashley Jansen (Omaha Marian) 0-0-0, Elaine Kramer (Gretna) 7-0-.5. Bria Rasmussen (Grand Island) 0-0-0, Allison Zastrow (Lincoln Pius X) 1-0-.5, Jade Cunningham (Laurel-C/C) 1-0-0, Katie Hughes (Seward) 7-1-.5, Jordan Chocon (Columbus Scotus) 1-2-2, Kalei Fertig (Kearney) 2-0-1.5, Megan Schmale (Elmwood-Murdock) 5-1-1.5, Kelsey Biltoft (Lawrence-Nelson) 3-0-1, Michaela Schimmer (Grand Island NW) 5-0-.5, Katie Hoskins (Wayne) 6-0-.5, Cassie Effken (Pius X) 7-0-1.5, Janaya Fox (Bellevue East) 4-0-1.
Reds: Lea Sack (Pius X) 0-1-0, Whitney Kostal (Papillion-LV South) 1-0-0, Kate Elman (Marian) 0-0-0, Morgan Heise (Wood River) 4-0-0, Ashley Stevens (Bridgeport) 1-0-.5, Christina Silver (Grand Island) 7-3-.5, Kelsey Stratman (Omaha Skutt) 9-0-2.5, Maggie Anderson (Lincoln SW) 2-2-0, Claire White (Exeter-Milligan) 7-2-1, Katie Brand (Grand Island CC) 5-0-.5, Scarlett Howerter (Pius X) 7-0-0, Cari McGarvie (Lincoln North Star) 8-0-2, Emily Jones (Grand Island NW) 0-0-0, Elizabeth Gebhardt (Norfolk Lutheran NE) 5-1-3, Lauren Smith (Pius X) 0-0-0.
Set assists: Blues: Chocon 22, Zastrow 16, Schimmer 5, Cunningham 2, Effken 1. Reds: Brand 21, Kostal 15, Anderson 9, Elman 2.
Officials: Nancy Fuchs, Lincoln; Tim Higgins, Grand Island.
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